FEB 7 Winslow native supports Pacific Partnership 2024

Lt. Michael Pennington, a native of Winslow, Indiana, is serving aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy as part of Pacific Partnership 2024-1 (PP24-1).

Mercy departed its homeport in San Diego October 10 with more than 800 military medical personnel and support staff with the afloat medical treatment facility and more than 70 civil service mariners to participate in the 19th iteration of the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific.

This annual maritime humanitarian and civic assistance mission focuses on improving disaster response preparedness, resiliency and capacity while enhancing partnerships with participating nations and civilian humanitarian organizations throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

“This mission reflects the continued commitment to the region and dedication to disaster-response-readiness from the United States, our partners and allies, and the host nations,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Brian Quin, the mission commander for Pacific Partnership 2024-1.

Pennington is serving as a Navy Nurse and division officer, who is responsible for taking care of patients aboard Mercy, making sure his unit runs well and his staff are taken care of and completing administrative tasks.

“The most rewarding part of this mission is changing people’s lives through surgery and education,” said Pennington.

Host nations invite the U.S. Navy and its mission partners to visit and conduct tailored humanitarian civic action activities in areas such as engineering, disaster response, host nation outreach events and public health. Additional criteria is also taken into consideration such as U.S. Navy and partner nation regional interests as well as host nation objectives and desires.

“My past missions have been in-hospital,” Pennington said. “Coming aboard Mercy and directly impacting people in these countries has been life-changing for myself and for those we serve.”

The Pacific Partnership mission team aboard USNS Mercy will make stops in the Republic of Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia. Experts in the fields of engineering, medicine and disaster response will partner with each host to conduct civic-action projects, community health exchanges, medical symposiums, and disaster response training activities.

“Pacific Partnership has changed me and my outlook through exploring the culture, understanding regional history and making a difference by educating local healthcare providers on skills they may not have known before or teaching them different ways of doing things,” said Pennington.

The Pacific Partnership began in response to one of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters, the December 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of Southeast Asia. The mission has evolved over the years from emphasis on direct care to an operation focused on enhancing partnerships through host nation subject matter expert and civil-military exchanges.